Diamonds and Ice


Jefferson’s Sweeney one of top juniors in country
April 2, 2009, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Prep baseball | Tags: , ,

Shortstop Kellen Sweeney of Cedar Rapids Jefferson has been named a first-teamer on Perfect Game USA’s Preseason Underclassmen all-American Baseball team.

According to a release from Perfect Game, Sweeney is one of 60 prep players across the country to receive the honor. He is the brother of Oakland Athletics outfielder Ryan Sweeney.

Kellen Sweeney at Perfect Game event

Kellen Sweeney at Perfect Game event



Despite economy, Kernels doing OK

Despite the worst economy this country has seen in decades and the fact that Cedar Rapids is still in recovery mode from last summer’s devastating floods, Cedar Rapids Kernels General Manager Jack Roeder said Tuesday his Midwest League baseball club is in good shape from a financial standpoint.

“We’re really doing very well, all things considered,” Roeder said. “We’ve spent time with the other teams in the Midwest League. We had a Midwest League spring meeting, and there’s a lot of clubs who are struggling in some areas. We can’t say that we’re struggling in any areas.”

Roeder said he breaks things down into three categories: season-ticket sales, advertising sales and group sales. The Kernels have sold roughly 350 season tickets for the 2009 season, which begins next week, including a new 10-game ticket voucher package. That’s on par with previous seasons.

Advertising also is doing well. The only area where the club is experiencing some downturn is in group sales, though Roeder said he is confident that will pick up as the season starts.

“When all is said and done, we’re ahead of last year’s season-ticket sales and at or close to our advertising goal,” Roeder said. “The one area where maybe we’re down in in groups.

“I have to give our staff a lot of credit for going out in the community over the winter months. They’ve done a very good job. I feel if you are a reasonably priced and provide good entertainment value, people are going to support you. I think we are reasonably priced and that we’ve got a good product to sell. That is an advantage during these tough times.”

There has been some bad timing, though, in that the Kernels are raising ticket prices by a dollar this season. Individual game tickets range from $7 to $10. It’s the second time since the newer Memorial Stadium opened eight years ago, that ticket prices have risen.

Roeder said the increased prices do not affect group tickets.

“We have a lot of loyal fans and supporters out there,” Roeder said. “We raised the prices last fall, before the downturn in the economy. We’ve raised just walk-up tickets, not group. I still think it’s a great value.”

Among the Kernels’ more interesting promotions this summer is an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders June 18, Zach Johnson bobblehead day June 21 and an appearance by San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding only July 5.

Roeder said Kaeding also will sign autographs. He is scheduled to kick 20 footballs into the stands for fans, and will have a baseball card of himself passed out.

“Again, we just feel very fortunate that we are doing OK during these tough economic times,” Roeder said.

The season opens April 9 at home against Beloit. The team is scheduled to arrive in Cedar Rapids late Monday afternoon.

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll



Hawkeye coach supports UNI

Got University of Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm to give his feelings on the possibility of Northern Iowa losing its baseball program after this season. The school has said it will drop the sport due to financial concerns if $1.2 million is not raised by next week.

According to www.supportunibaseball.com just over $250,000 has been pledged thus far. The site also has e-mail addresses of governor Chet Culver for others to complain about the decision.

Coach Dahm has known UNI head coach Rick Heller for quite a while, considering Dahm used to be head coach at Missouri Valley Conference rival Creighton.

“I’m very disappointed,” Dahm said. “Rick Heller is a good friend of mine. We’ve heard the rumors for years that Northern Iowa was going to drop baseball. There are no positives that come out of this – for college baseball or for baseball in the state of Iowa.

“You look at the number of kids we have from the state of Iowa. The opportunities to play Division I baseball in this state have been cut in half. There are a lot of talented kids in this state, so I’m very disappointed.”

Dahm said he had recently talked with Heller about the situation. Iowa and Northern Iowa are scheduled to play each other twice in April, including the Corridor Classic at Cedar Rapids’ Memorial Stadium.

“I know Rick is still working hard. I actually talked to him (last Thursday),” Dahm said. “He’s trying to find a way to get this done. I know he’s made some progress, and I hope they find a way to keep baseball there. Those players deserve it. Rick Heller and the coaching staff deserves it. The alumni deserve it. They’ve played baseball there for so many years.”

Dahm said he was disappointed at the timing of the announcement, coming on the heels of UNI’s first games of the season in early March.

“I wish they’d have given them a little more time to raise the money,” he said. “It has kind of been thrown on (Heller’s) back right now in a not very realistic time frame. Let him know. Don’t make it public, let him know he’s got to go out and do this. Unfortunately, they put him in a very tough spot. They put a lot of pressure on him.

“He’s trying to make this season special for his players, and yet he’s got so many (other) worries, trying to raise $1.2 million. That’s tough. And it’s probably not fair to put him in that spot.”

Dahm complimented Heller as a terrific coach.

“I tell you what, he’s done more with less,” Dahm said. “What he does at Northern Iowa, not being fully funded, the budget is very small, they have to raise a lot of money. Rick Heller is just a tremendous, tremendous baseball coach. And, again, those players do an incredible job over there. I hope they all find a way to keep it.”

 



NHL’s Stars sign former RoughRider goalie Bachman

Richard Bachman signed a three-year entry level contract with the NHL’s Dallas Stars this weekend. Bachman played for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the 2006-07 season, then went on to play two stellar seasons at Colorado College.

Bachman is the second former Rider to sign a pro deal this week. Defenseman Zach Miskovic signed with the Washington Capitals earlier in the week.

Here’s the press release from the Stars:

 

FRISCO, Tex. – The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has signed goaltender Richard Bachman to a three-year entry-level contract. Bachman recently wrapped up a two-year career at Colorado College, and will forego his final two seasons of eligibility with the Tigers. Richard Bachman “Richard had an outstanding, highly-decorated career at Colorado College, and he’s ready to take the next step into the professional ranks,” said Dallas Stars Co-General Manager Les Jackson. “He has an outstanding set of fundamentals and a very bright future ahead of him, and we look forward to his continued development in our organization.” Bachman, 21, appeared in 35 games for Colorado College as a sophomore in 2008-09, posting a 14-11-10 record with a .914 save percentage, a 2.63 goals-against-average and three shutouts. As a freshman in 2007-08, the Salt Lake City native was named the National Rookie of the Year by the HCA (Hockey Commissioner’s Association) and Inside College Hockey magazine, and became just the second player ever to be named WCHA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season. The 5-11, 170-pound goaltender also earned First Team West All-America and First Team All-WCHA honors, and was named to College Hockey News’ All-Rookie Team. Originally selected by Dallas in the fourth round (No. 120 overall) in the 2006 Entry Draft, Bachman backstopped CC to the WCHA title in 2007-08, shattering school records with a 1.85 goals-against-average and .931 save percentage, both of which ranked third in the nation. He posted a stellar 25-9-1 record with four shutouts, and allowed two-or-fewer goals in 25 of his 35 starts as a freshman.

bachman480



Floods force USHL’s Fargo Force to the road

The United States Hockey League’s Fargo Force have had their weekend home games moved from the Urban Plains Center because of record flooding that is deluging the North Dakota city.

Friday night’s game against the Tri-City Storm was moved to the Centennial Center in Grafton, N.D. The listed attendance for the game was 630.

Saturday night’s game between the teams will be played in Grand Forks, N.D., at the Purpur Arena.

“With all that is going on out there, these are just games and out there is real, it would be very distasteful for us to move forward playing these games in town.  This was not a hard decision to make, it is the right thing to do,”  Force Director of Media Andy Leapaldt told USHL.com.

The Force is donating $1 from every ticket sold to the local Red Cross to aid in the fight against the flood.  In addition, all concession revenues will be donated to local venues. 

“Our hearts go out to those in the Red River Valley affected by this flooding,” said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince.  “Together with the ownership, management, staff and players of the Fargo Force, we at the USHL want to thank the cities of Grafton and Grand Forks for opening their doors and being partners during this turbulent time.  Without the support and flexibility they have shown, this could not be possible.”



Former RoughRider Miskovic signs with NHL’s Capitals

Former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders defenseman Zach Miskovic has signed a one-year entry level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals, it was announced Thursday. The contract is for the 2009-10 season.

Miskovic was a first-team ECAC Hockey defenseman this season and is considered an all-American candidate. He played 154 career games for St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, not missing any. This season, his senior season, he had 17 goals and 26 points in 39 games. The 17 goals led NCAA Division I rearguards.

Miskovic is a River Forest, Ill., native. He played for Cedar Rapids for three seasons, from 2002 through 2005. His contract with Washington doesn’t begin until next season, though he will join the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears for the rest of this season on a amateur tryout contract.

“Nothing Misky has done has surprised me,” said RoughRiders head coach/general Mark Carlson. “Other people might be surprised, but I’m not.”

Zach Miskovic

Zach Miskovic



A chat with Hawkeye football recruit Jordan Cotton

Iowa Hawkeye football recruit Jordan Cotton was outstanding at Monday’s A.D. Dickinson indoor track and field meet at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

The Mount Pleasant senior was the only athlete to post a sub seven-second time in the 60-meter dash, going 6.97 seconds in the prelims. His 7.01 finals time was first by a solid .12 over Pleasant Valley’s Ellis Robinson.

Cotton also anchored Mount Pleasant’s 4 x 200 relay team to a second-place finish at the all-class meet and to third place in the 4 x 400. The defending Class 3A state champion in the 400-meter hurdles, Cotton said he plans on running that event, the 100-meter dash and a relay or two most of this season.

A running back who rushed for 3,120 yards and 43 touchdowns as a junior and senior at Mount Pleasant, he is expected to be a wide receiver and possible kick returner at Iowa. He’ll room with Sioux City Heelan all-stater Brandon Wegher this fall.

The son of former Iowa running back Marshall Cotton was kind enough to answer some questions about track and being an Iowa Hawkeye.

How much do you enjoy track? Is it just something you do to keep in shape for football?

“Track is right there for me with football. If I wasn’t playing football, I’d probably run track in college. Iowa is actually talking to me about running track up there, too. I might look into that. I’m not sure, yet. Right now, football is my main thing.”

What are your goals this track season?

“Defending my title in the (400) hurdles is definitely my first goal. We’re trying to win a team championship. And I want to place real well in the 100 at the Drake Relays. That’s a big one.”

How did you get into the long hurdle races? That seems like a grueling event.

“Well, I qualified for Drake as a freshman in the hurdles. I didn’t really pick them up again until last year. I just did the hurdles to help out my quarter time. It did bring my quarter time down, so I just kept doing it.”

What are you going to be doing from now until you head to Iowa for fall practice?

“I’ve already started my workout program for them a month ago. That’s helping out a lot. I’m going up there June 1 just to throw the ball around with (red-shirt freshman quarterback) James Vandenberg a little bit. I know him real well. He was in the same conference I was (in high school) and everything. Then June 8 is when we actually start working in our (weight and conditioning) program with Coach (Chris) Doyle. So I’m looking forward to that.”

What are your expectations for yourself this fall?

“Going into it, my mind is set that I’m going to be the best receiver they’ve got. That’s my mindset. You can’t go in there thinking that you’re going for the number two spot or anything like that. My sights are set on trying to get the number one spot. Those are my expectations. I’m going to work really hard when I’m up there, and hopefully I can get a spot.”

Did playing running back your final two years at Mount Pleasant hurt your development as a wide receiver at all?

“I don’t think it has hurt me at all. Like Coach (Reese) Morgan has said, I remind them of Andy Brodell. He played tailback in high school at Ankeny. You want to get your best players on the team the ball, so that’s why I played running back my junior and senior years. I played wide receiver my sophomore year, so I know the position.”